Saturday, August 02, 2008

Four warblers for August

Yellow Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler

Northern Waterthrush

Female Redstart

All photos by Lloyd Spitalnik

From Jack Meyer's daily bird report on e-birds for today--August 2, 2008:

Yellow Warbler (Upper lobe, 2)
Black-and-white Warbler (Lower lobe)
American Redstart (Lower lobe, 2)
Northern Waterthrush (Lower lobe)

Friday, August 01, 2008

The moth tree and the path toward Cedar Hill

The Moth Tree

Three Armyworm Moths feeding on the diminishing sap of the Moth Tree
Alas, the Moth Tree is drying up. No Underwing Moths at all. But at least we have Cicadas. And soon...slug sex. Also, we'll be experimenting with new locations for the black light in hope of finding some new moths.

A lacewing on the Moth Tree

A cicada still attached to its nymph case, on a Beech Tree around 75th Street

A cicada almost emerged on a fence at Cedar Hill

A crab spider on a fence

A sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar on a bench slat [Many of these are being seen this week.]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here we go again

It's a Yellow Warbler and the photo is by Lloyd Spitalnik

And the news:

Two Yellow Warblers were seen east of Balcony Bridge at 10:30 this morning and 3 seen at the end of the gill (at noon.

What this means:

The Fall Migration has begun! Yellow warblers are early nesters. It is not at all unusual for this species of warbler to have completed its breeding cycle -- courtship, nesting, and raising babies-- by the end of July. Time to head southward to its winter grounds.

PS Lloyd's photo of a singing Yellow Warbler was taken in the spring--songbirds don't really sing except during the breeding season. And the photo was not taken in Central Park but in Sterling Forest.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

That's what photographer Murray Head calls the new ducklings in the southern quadrant of the park. He writes:

Hi Marie,

In recent weeks I had become concerned about the absence of Mallard chicks in the south end of The Park...two in the Turtle Pond... now alas only one, The Pond at 62nd St. had one and I hadn't seen it for a week and finally only one in The Gill in The Ramble. I recalled past summers when the the ponds were afloat with flotillas of fuzzens*.

In my view the duck makes the pond.

On Sunday, to my delight... The Pond at 62nd Street had a surprise for me. .. and my camera.


Proud Mama

One-seventh of the family

Up tails all

All photos by Murray Head

PS from Marie:
Murray doesn't mention the Mallard family at the Model-boat Pond. I'm not sure how many chicks there were to begin with there, seven or maybe nine. Now only two are left, almost as big as their Mom. They may be seen every night, along with another local resident, a Bullfrog.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Old and new mothers (authors) convene

7/26/08 -- about 10:30 p.m.
Old and new Mothers (authors) at Cedar Hill, watching Cicada-Killer Wasps emerge
from L to R Jim Lewis, Nick Wagerik, Julia Rolnick, Aaron Kaplan [shuttling back and forth between two Cicada-killer nests].

"Came from CA to see the Moth Tree." That was the subject line of an e-mail that arrived in my website mailbox yesterday. The message read:

I am a mother (other) who has been absolutely enraptured with your book, Central Park in the Dark. We have brought our family to NYC for the first time and are seeing all the “sights.” After reading on the Internet that the Moth Tree was flowing again, we (husband, myself and two eager kids) went to find the Moth Tree last night (Friday, 7/25) at around 9pm, thinking you’d all be there... After roaming around for over an hour with the book and flashlights (fun anyway!), we decided you all were not there, and we couldn’t find the tree on our own. This is our last night in New York, and we'd love to tag along on any nature walk you and your mother (author) group are planning, especially if it includes the moth tree.

Tracy Kaplan
from Davis CA (near Sacramento)

Well, what author [rhymes with Moth-er] could resist such a letter?Tracy included a cell phone number and I called her back to arrange a date for that evening.

The Mothers (authors) were in especially high spirits that night , since Julia and Davie Rolnick were in town and had joined us. Charter Central Park Mothers who had moved to Vermont six years ago, Julia and Davie had never lost touch with their Central Park friends. We all talk by phone, and e-mail (and exchange Moth lists) many times a year.

Last night we met the very delightful California family and saw some exciting sights. Only ordinary moths at the Moth Tree -- none of our favorite group, the Underwings. Alas, it seems to be drying up again. But we found cicadas in the most exciting (for us) stage of metamorphosis, and many other nocturnal insects .

Since there were many cicadas, we wondered if the cicadas' primary enemies, the Cicada Killer Wasps, might not have begun making their underground nests in the usual area, a rock outcropping on Cedar Hill. Yes!

It was a thrilling sight. We saw at least three of these huge insects emerging from their mounds. They were bringing up dirt as they constructed their underground tunnels and cells. Before long the wasps would be bringing in live but paralyzed cicadas as food for their newly hatched larvae.

The Kaplans had just read the sections of Central Park in the Dark about cicadas and cicada-killer wasps. In fact, Tracy had read these parts aloud to 9-year-old Aaron and 11- year- old Grace earlier that day. As you may imagine, it was a tremendous pleasure for the book's author to witness this famiy's excitement as they watched the dramas described in the book unfolding before their very eyes, in real life.

Below are some of the photos I took in the dark last night with my small digital camera.

At the Moth Tree - in foreground, Julia and Davie

At the Moth Tree, from l. to R: Stuart Kaplan, Aaron and Nick Wagerik

from L to R: an unknown arm, Aaron [in white shirt] , Stuart, Davie, Tracy, a small part of Grace, and the Moth Tree

A Cicada just beginning to emerge on Beech Tree north of Model-boat Pond, in area just west of Fifth Avenue wall.

A Crab Spider on a fence along path between 75th and 77 Street

A Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar crawling up plastic baggie {NB:There are many of these caterpillars around just now. If you come across one, don't touch it! A certain percentage of the population is highly allergic to something they exude.]